I’m in the sober business so I read a lot about sobriety, giving up alcohol and also spend a little time on Facebook Groups – sometimes contributing and sometimes lurking.
After a few months of doing this I noticed something that I think is a little odd.
Many women are struggling with alcohol to varying degrees – some have been sober for a long time and then lapse back into drinking, whilst others are trying sobriety for the first time.
The comments from women I’ve read are quite common:
‘I’ve been struggling with sobriety for 4 years but I still crave the escape’
‘I keep trying but my will power is zero.’
The self-flagellation many women are inflicting on themselves is heartbreaking to read.
There are some wonderful people on these forums who are always willing to offer advice and support and you can see how the outpouring of positive comments can help someone in need. However, the more I had read, the more I have noticed a repeating pattern in the nature of the helpful advice.
Can you spot the common thread in the selection below?
- Drink lots of water
- Take supplements
- Be kind to yourself
- Rest plenty
- See your doctor
- Find a 12 step meeting
- Give your wallet to someone
- Watch TV
The above are just a tiny sample of the suggestions I have read and all of them are great advice, but….
No-one advises getting to truth of WHY they are drinking.
Nearly all of the advice I have seen is practical in nature – go do something, try a thing, distract yourself – but don’t get to the bottom of why you drink in the first place.
When I first embarked on my first 30 days I didn’t think about WHY I drank either. I knew it was getting in the way of many of the things I wanted to do with my life, and some of my motivation for going alcohol-free was to spend my free time being more productive.
It wasn’t until I was in the midst of my first 30 days that the TRUE reasons I had been drinking for 40 years began to surface. Without alcohol in my system to drown the truth in me, the reasons started jumping out at speed.
I was lonely. I was a bit sad sometimes. I was bored. I was stressed. I was suffering from low self esteem. I was….I was…..I was…… Plenty of reasons to excuse myself with.
Getting sober meant that there was nowhere to hide and once I examined each of my reasons in turn the unvarnished truth of why I drank I realised that they were either not true or things that I could overcome.
Loneliness was a rare feeling for me as I really like my own company a lot, however, but I have the occasional day where I feel incredibly alone. Much of this is to do with the fact that I live alone so those moments of connection that I crave can’t be accessed immediately. Reaching out to loved ones and arranging get togethers are always guaranteed to keep lonely feelings at bay.
Sadness was natural as I had come out of a relationship a year or so before I gave up and just had days of feeling sad about the loss of a potentially different life, so I drank to make the sadness go away. It’s a part of being human and everyone feels it sometimes. Being sobersad is so much better because I just sit and cry, or watch a weepy movie, accept that today is a sad day in the knowledge that tomorrow won’t be.
Boredom was just ridiculous. I was bored because, most days, I either had a thick head or a full blown hangover and couldn’t be bothered to do any of the things I loved to do like meditate, read, make jewellery, write, etc etc. That one was just a ‘get over yourself’ cure.
Stress had already become a thing of the past by the time I was looking for the answers to why I drank. I had already sailed through a couple of pretty stressful situations and had realised that having alcohol in my system made every stressful situation so much worse than it actually was – so that one kind of fixed itself.
Low Self Esteem
Low self-esteem was something I had lived with my whole life. But as I got sober, I began to see that I had been needlessly hanging on to all the reasons I had low self esteem in order to keep myself from having to change into someone truly happy. Ironically, the alcohol had been making a huge contribution to my poor view of myself and without it there was nowhere to hide. So I really had no choice but to get happy.
Once I had absorbed, answered, cried over and accepted all the truths of why I drank my need for alcohol evaporated. Since then the clarity I have every day makes dealing with any personal problems so much easier – yes I do still have them – but they are all manageable and just a normal part of my life now. In a funny way, I kind of enjoy it when I have a problem now. I always know I will be able to overcome it and it’s like a little game I play with myself to see how long it will take or what steps I will take to fix it.
Kick Yourself When You’re Down
As women, we seem to be more pre-disposed to kick ourselves when we are already down. In doing so we lose ourselves in our misery and our drinking and we drink more to forget why we feel so bad. Everyone woman I have encountered who is exploring the possibility of sobriety is strong, determined, feisty and wise. They all know that there is a better version of themselves as a mother, sister, daughter, wife and woman, than they will never find in the bottom of a bottle.
What About You?
What about you? Have you tried and failed to stop drinking? Have you tried all the distraction tricks to take your mind of your withdrawal symptoms? Do you find yourself craving alcohol even though you’ve been sober for a while? Is your sobriety a daily challenge rather than the best gift you ever gave yourself?
Unless you get to the truth of WHY you drink, it’s possible that you will always struggle with sobriety. Like any bad habit we have, digging out the root of the problem and dealing with it, is more likely to kill it for good.
If you don’t know the answer right now try this journal prompt:
Journal Prompt: The reason I drink alcohol is…
I promise you, there is an amazing life out there for you. A life of exciting adventures, love, joy and most important of all – memories that will stay with you forever.